Over at Sports Illustrated, Britt Robson seems to have unearthed a column that was written last decade, changed the dates, and submitted it as brand-new. I mean, it starts off pleasant enough, with Robson basically saying that the Suns are the big NBA Boys’ younger stepbrother and worthy of watching if you can’t afford tickets to see Kobe or LeBron play (wait, that’s not so pleasant…that’s Dig No. 1). He goes on to talk about how the Suns have exceeded expectations this season and are defying age (you know, because they have two old guys) and the front office (well, it’s hard to argue with that one, I reckon). Then he says that the Suns are playing pretty well of late, have beaten five of the six division leaders, and are basically kicking ass. However…
But as most everyone aside from your nephew and grandmother knows, the playoffs have not been so pleasant for the high-tempo team from the desert. During its otherwise marvelous six-year span, Phoenix has never exceeded its playoff seeding, and has twice been bounced by opponents with inferior records (the Spurs, in both 2005 and 2007). The same quality that makes the Suns so enjoyable to watch in November, January and March — they try to outscore opponents by running them off the court — dooms them when the playoffs commence in the spring.
Now, since he’s not a complete moron, Robson does make an offhand mention of the fact that when they were tearing it up in the mid-aughts, they were giving up a lot of points, but had a really high Defensive Efficiency. This year, they’re 29th in Defensive Efficiency. That’s bad. But lately, they’ve been tearing it up on defense and still kicking ass on offense. I couldn’t find month-by-month Efficiency splits, but for the month of February, they’re scoring 106.3 per game, and giving up 99.9. And opponents are only shooting 45.6% (and 33% from 3). Sounds pretty efficient to me.
Now I know the playoffs haven’t started yet, and I know all about unhatched chickens and what-have-you, but IF the Suns keep playing this way, solid on defense and awesome on offense, then yeah, they should be able to find some playoff success (especially if they play their way into a top-4 seed). And I think it’s worth mentioning that their “loss” to the Spurs in 2007 had some…shall we say…mitigating circumstances?
(I know those two link are to things that happened almost three years ago, but reading them and reviewing that crap sure does get my blood pressure up in the morning. I need to go lie down for a bit.)